A Bar Harbor Water Division crew works to replace a section of water main on Shannon Road that failed early Saturday morning, sending thousands of gallons of water into the street. PHOTO COURTESY OF GEORGE MERRILL

Water main break turns into gusher



BAR HARBOR — Many downtown residents here woke up Saturday morning to find very low water pressure in their homes.

Around 5:30 a.m., the police started getting reports that water was gushing into the street on Waldron Road from a broken water main there, said Public Works Director Chip Reeves. Residents joked that it was almost enough to kayak in.

“It’s a great big 10-inch transmission line,” Reeves said. “That’s enough flow that it started to mess with the treatment up at the plant.”

The town’s water treatment plant is rated for 2,500 gallons per minute, so alarms were going off warning operators that the plant couldn’t keep up with the flow out of the leak. Reeves said at the scene he estimated peak flow at 3,500 gallons a minute.

“In the meantime, we already had personnel responding,” he said. “It was a big leak, so it lowered pressure in town until we got the leak isolated.”

Shutting off valves close to the break stopped the flow. That restored normal pressure to the rest of the system and allowed workers from John Goodwin Construction to dig up the affected section of pipe and replace it. Water was back on the Shannon Road line around 2:30 p.m.

“When the pressure came back up, it jerked the system around a little bit,” he said, “so a lot of folks noticed some dirty water.”

Issues with town water can be reported to the Water Division if they happen during business hours, he said, and to the police department at other times. Police can then contact an on-call member of the water division staff.

In the 2016 annual report, Reeves wrote that the department aims to keep lost water quantity, a metric they must report to the Public Utilities Commission, below 10 percent of total volume. Lost water increased from 10.4 percent in 2015 to 11.8 percent in 2016, when crews had to repair 11 water main leaks.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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